I was asked to read this book for a LifeWay pastor’s conference I’ll be attending in a couple of weeks. In general, I would rather choose what I would like to read than be assigned it, a shallow fault I’ve had since middle school. However, I really did appreciate Transformational Discipleship. The book is a careful, studied, and measured look at how genuine discipleship actually happens. It is based on an extensive LifeWay study that was the basis for the earlier Stetzer/Rainer book, Transformational Church.
In this book, the authors describe what they call the “Transformational Framework.” The framework is depicted as three circles representing the three realities of “Truth,” “Leaders,” and “Posture.” The authors look at “Truth” through a consideration of the gospel, our identity in Christ, and the Christian disciplines. They look at “Leaders” by discussing what healthy leadership is. They consider “Posture” with a discussion of weakness, interdependence, and outward focus. Within the framework, the “Transformational Sweet Spot” is that area where these three realities overlap, and can be defined as “the intersection of truth given by healthy leaders when someone is in a vulnerable posture.”
Now, I’m hesitant about buzzwords (i.e., “Transformational Sweet Spot,” etc.), but the authors are making a very good point: true transformation comes about when solid leadership imparts solid truth to a person who is in a position to receive it. The basic premise is that the appropriate convergence of truth, humility, and a godly leader is critical for growth in discipleship. There is a great pastoral challenge here, which the authors rightly return to time and again: the challenge for pastors not to miss these moments for great transformation in the lives of our people or in our own lives.
The book is well-written, solidly biblical, and helpfully illustrated. I appreciated the fact that not all of the illustrations were modern. In fact, many are taken from antiquity and church history. There is an earnestness about this work that is engaging. The authors seem truly convinced of the importance of what they are doing. Their discussion of the gospel was particularly helpful, and they offered some very helpful reminders about the need to understand who we are in Christ. Furthermore, I appreciate their take on the need for a humble posture to receive divine truth.
As a leader, I found this work appropriately challenging and full of significant content. I look forward to discussing it in the conference to come, as well as in thinking more deeply about what is being proposed here and how it can effect my own pastorate.